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TikTok could be banned in the U.S. if China’s ByteDance does not divest it, under proposed legislation unveiled Tuesday. It’s the latest effort by congressional lawmakers to target the popular short-video app.

The measure is being introduced by Rep. Mike Gallagher, the Wisconsin Republican who leads the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, and the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois. It is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of more than 15 House lawmakers.

U.S. officials have for years been concerned about the data-collection practices and privacy protections of Beijing-based ByteDance. Legislation introduced last year stalled, however, and it’s unclear how far the latest effort will get during this election year.

Now read: Without TikTok, what would Americans do with their 53 billion free hours?

The bill would give ByteDance more than five months to divest TikTok. If that did not happen, it would be illegal for app stores
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to offer the app.

TikTok spokesperson Alex Haurek said the bill “is an outright ban of TikTok, no matter how much the authors try to disguise it. This legislation will trample the First Amendment rights of 170 million Americans and deprive 5 million small businesses of a platform they rely on to grow and create jobs.”

Gallagher said in a statement on Tuesday: “This is my message to TikTok: break up with the Chinese Communist Party or lose access to your American users.”

Testifying before Congress last March, TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew repeatedly denied that the app has connections to the Chinese Communist Party.

Krishnamoorthi said: “Our bipartisan legislation would protect American social media users by driving the divestment of foreign adversary-controlled apps to ensure that Americans are protected from the digital surveillance and influence operations of regimes that could weaponize their personal data against them.”

Also read: Biden’s campaign joins TikTok, even as administration warns of national-security concerns with app

 


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